Soccer MPR — May 26, 2013 at 10:17 am

NASL Recap: United FC versus Rowdies

Image Credit: Tampa Bay Rowdies

Image Credit: Tampa Bay Rowdies

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Rowdies dropped Saturday night’s match against Minnesota 3-2 at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Rowdies had erased an early Minnesota lead, but United FC was able to score two quick goals to make it 3-1 by the 26th minute. Forward Georgi Hristov, who had scored the initial Rowdies goal, cut the lead back to one in the 30th minute, but Tampa Bay was unable to score any second-half goals to tie things up.

“I was slightly disappointed that we over used the wind because the ball ran away from us,” commented Rowdies head coach Ricky Hill. “I wanted us to play shorter balls into the strikers. I can’t fault the players for the effort that they always put into their game.

United FC picked up the match’s first goal in the 10th minute after a header by defender Cristiano Dias lobbed over Rowdies goalkeeper Diego Restrepo. A goal in the 14th minute by forward Georgi Hristov leveled the match, as the Bulgarian scored his fifth goal this season to tie things up at one. Midfielder Keith Savage placed a perfect through ball into the box, finding Hristov on the right flank to drill the ball into the top part of the net.

It wouldn’t be long until Minnesota regained the lead with two goals coming in the 23rd and 26th minute. Midfielder Geison Moura got on the end of forward Pablo Campos’ back heel pass to put Minnesota up 2-1. It was Campos once again who set up the third goal for Minnesota. His feed found midfielder Simone Bracalello on the left flank, with the Italian putting it through Restrepo’s legs for the goal.

The two-goal lead would once again cut in half in the 29th minute, as Hristov would score his second goal of the match. Midfielder Luke Mulholland volleyed a cross from the left flank, but Minnesota’s goalkeeper Matt VanOekel denied his attempt on goal. It was Hristov who was on the end of the rebound to head the rebound into the net from inside the 6-yard box. The Bulgarian has now scored four goals in his last two matches.

“I’m really disappointed that we’ve again conceded three goals at home and three within the first 20 minutes, which is an elementary mistake,” explained Hill “Defensively we were all at sea. If we have to score four goals at home to win every time, we can’t do that.  We have to stop it as a unit.”

A choppy second half saw forward Mike Ambersley come off the bench in the 62nd minute, as the St. Louis native picked up his first minutes of the season. Down a goal, Tampa Bay was forced to attack in order to equalize the match and pick up at least a point. While Del Do had a chance of his own in the 52nd minute, the most dangerous scoring chance for the Rowdies came minutes later, when Del Do fed a cross to Hristov. The Bulgarian lifted himself over Minnesota’s defense, but his head went over the bar and out of play.

A late push by the reigning NASL Champions was well handled by a Minnesota defense, as they cleared the ball out of the box in various opportunities. The Rowdies remain winless at home this season, while unbeaten on the road with a perfect 3-0-0 record (W-T-L). With Atlanta’s win over San Antonio, the Rowdies dropped to second place in the standing, where they are tied with Minnesota and Carolina.

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